JOE D’AMATO WEEK: Giubbe rosse (1975)

Red Coats was released internationally as Cormack of the Mounties, Killers of the Savage North, Red Coat and Royal Mounted Police and was part of a very short cycle of childrens’ adventure films that were made after the success of commercial success of Lucio Fulci’s White Fang, a film that was Aristide Massaccesi went to Canada to be the cinematographer on.

After shooting the sleigh ride for that film’s sequel — Challenge to White Fang — producer Ermanno Donati asked Massaccesi to stay and direct this movie for him. It would be the first time that the gifted cinematographer would use the pseudonym that so many of use for him to this day.

Joe D’Amato.

It tells the tale of Corporal Bill Cormack (Fabio Testi, Contraband), a Canadian mountie who met his wife Elizabeth (Lynne Frederick, who was also in Fulci’s Four of the Apocalypse with Testi) when he continually rescued her from her drunken husband Caribou.

Years pass and Elizabeth has died, but not before giving Bill a son, Jimmy (Renato Cestiè, who was Italy’s top child star of the 1970s, best remembered for palying neglected children who die by the end of the movie. Italy, you know?), who Caribou has kidnapped and, as Renato does best, young JImmy gets sick and is only saved because of the skills of Doctor Higgins (Lionel Stander, who was blacklisted after the Communist witch hunts in Hollywood for longer than just about anyone else; he was forced to go to act in small stage roles, act as a corporate spokesperson and even a stockbroker while he tried to get back into the movies. Other than voicing over the bizarre noir Blast of Silence, it took moving to London and then Rome for his acting career to make a comeback. He settled into a series of Italian Western roles, such as Once Upon a Time in the WestBeyond the Law and Boot Hill as well as showing up in Fulci’s The Eroticist. After working with Robert Wagner on an episode of To Catch a Thief — playing a lifelong friend named Max — he ended up getting the role that so many remember him for several years later as Max on Hart to Hart. Sorry for the digressing, but Stander’s refusal to back down and late career renaissance make him one of my favorite actors).

When asked which film was the best one he made in the mid 70s by the authors of Spaghetti Nightmares, D’Amato said “Undoubtedly, Giubbe Rosse, which also made a lot of money.” By all accounts, it didn’t.

This doesn’t often get discussed when people bring up D’Amato’s career, but it’s a well-made action film. Of course, when you have other movies where women have sexual congress with snakes, where men keep their wives hacked up bodies in the house and a man impales himself on a fence at the start of the movie, it’s understandable why this low key action yarn isn’t top of mind.

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